First Basemen: Beyond the Top Ten

For the upcoming season, I will be predominantly covering first baseman here on Rotographs. First base is traditionally thought of as a super deep position. After looking more closely, beyond the top 10 there are some solid first basemen, but nothing to build your team around. What I aim to explore today are those 1B who you may need to look at later on in the draft, but can help you in one of the traditional 5 roto categories (make that four, stolen base totals were too low to have a significant impact). I will be using Steamer as a guide, and then identifying a few deeper picks who may help you in potential deficiencies.

Batting Average
Joe Mauer should be available late, and if you drafted a team that lacks in batting average, Mauer can help as he has shown better health since moving to first base with over 500 plate appearances in the in the past four seasons. Last season he batted .267, but his lowest BABIP to date since his rookie season may be the reason for that. His line drive rate was on-par with his career average, so a bounce back in batting average is possible. He won’t necessarily go back to batting over .300, but over 500 PA’s hitting above .270 can help your squad if you need to boost that average. He also won’t hurt in an OBP league as Steamer projects a .355 OBP.

Home Runs
Lucas Duda was ninth amongst first basemen in home runs and fourth in slugging last season, so he should be ranked much higher. However, according to our Rotographs January rankings average, he is ranked 20th. A lower batting average and a tendency to go hot/cold doesn’t place him among the elite first basemen. If you are able to nab him late, thirty home runs is not out of the question. A better home run park would help his value. The only thing holding Duda back was his historical struggles against lefties, which he overcame last year. Wilmer Flores and Travis D’Arnaud will more than likely be his back-ups and will get some starts against lefties, but not too many. In an OBP league, don’t expect him to drop too far.

When it comes to home runs, Mark Trumbo is not a surprising name. Camden Park is a nice home run park, and the Orioles have been known to invest time in their sluggers when they struggle (see: Chris Davis), so even if Trumbo struggles early, I would expect over 25 home runs if he gets his Steamer projected 561 plate appearances. The batting average will hurt, but an interesting source for cheap home runs.

Outside of the top tier first basemen, there are not many first basemen who bat near the top of their line-up. That’s why if you have a line-up filled with 4 and 5 hole hitters who are going to get you R.B.I.’s, Carlos Santana is a great option to produce runs from 1B. He is slated to bat second and with an OBP that has not dipped below .350, he will get those opportunities to score. A boost in power would also help his cause, but not necessary if the line-up behind him hits and he continues to get on-base.

Chris Carter is my favorite late round first baseman this season. Steamer projects only 405 PA’s, but I see him getting over 500, possibly 600 PA’s. Carter struggled for the first half last season, but really turned it on later in the season. Miller Park is also a nice hitter’s park and if Carter picks up where he left off, this could be a great deep pick-up. I don’t expect him to mash all season, as he will have his ebbs and flows. Given more opportunity should provide an ample amount of flows creating late home run value. I like that he has Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy hitting ahead of him, potentially giving Carter a solid group of guys to drive in if he starts launching shots out.

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What do you think about Hanley here? Or do you think he’s likely to offer a bit of everything, barring SBs.